Category: Nature

The Circle of Life: Mara

How many places there are on our planet that just force you to think “fantastic”, “unreal”, “unearthly”! Be it endless sands of a desert, black volcanic ground, or unmerciful, shining and blinding snow of mountain ranges – sometimes it is hard to believe that all of these actually belong in our world.

But today I would like to tell you about the most earthly world. With its wide rivers, green plains and forests full of life, and a dome of sky covered with perfect clouds, this place is the real Garden of Eden from which, for some reason, humans have banished themselves.

This post is about the second part of my safari adventure in Kenya. The first part – about the desert region of Samburu – can be found right here.

The Circle of Life: Samburu

Like many other travelers, I, of course, have my own bucket list. Africa has always taken an important place on that list, but my position to actually checking it off has been so far: “Well.. maybe in 5-10 years when I have too much money and no idea how to spend them…” As you might have already guessed, the fate ruled otherwise, and this October I happened to find myself on an actual African safari (have no worry, no animal got hurt =)).

Here I learned what is a real animal horror caused by a gaze of a lion just a couple of meters away; woke up in the dark from cries of hyenas surrounding my tent; understood why Africa and Kenya in particular are invaluable to every human on Earth, since this is exactly the place that gave birth to humanity millions years ago.

Hiroshima and Miyajima island

A visit to Miyajima island near Hiroshima was recommended to me by a friend. Without that we would probably not even consider and totally miss this place which turned out to be a decent match even to Mt Fuji. So now I am fulfilling my duty of passing the recommendation on =)

We did Miyajima (and Hiroshima) as a day trip during your stay in Kyoto. Travel took away a big chunk of the day so we had to skip some interesting things =( If I knew more about Miyajima beforehand I would make sure we have a less restrictive travel plan…

First time in Japan: Mount Takao

Looking back at my experience with New York, this time I decided that four days in a big city is all I can take and that I would definitely need a nature retreat after that.

A quick search revealed that there is a cool mountain called Takao just an hour by train from Tokyo center, with a number of hiking trails up to the summit and cherry trees that bloom later than in Tokyo thanks to the altitude.

Rigi Kulm: a simple panoramic hike close to Zurich

To be honest, I was not a great fan of this trail: the place is not wild enough for me (in fact, not wild at all). On the other hand, this hike might be a nice option for people that stay in Zurich and want to get a glimpse on the main Swiss stereotypes (mountains, lakes, cows, you know). The trail is super easy – no need to climb, and only very little altitude change. Most of the path is even accessible for wheelchairs!

TL;DR

What: a hike next to Lucerne: Rigi Kulm to Rigi Scheidegg cable car station.
Why: great view on three lakes and on the Alps, clean Swiss air (with a scent of cows :D).
How long: 2-3 hours (the hike itself) + 3.5 hours (commute from Zurich and back).
How to get here: train, cable car.
Difficulty: minimal.
Ascent: 243 m.
Descent: 369 m.
How much it costs: ~65 CHF by public transport from Zurich.

“Blue” hiking trail in Alps: Randa to Domhütte

There are three categories of hiking routes in Switzerland:

  • yellow – the shortest and easiest, with little to no altitude difference; suitable for even small children; often asphalted or go along a forest road;
  • red – “mountain trails”, usually imply noticeable elevation, but generally not dangerous; you can just walk them and do not need to climb;
  • blue – “alpine trails”; to do those, you will need decent physical shape and a certain degree of craziness: steep cliffs, absence of an actual trail, glacier crossings are usual on such routes.

This post is about my first “blue” hike with an overnight in a mountain cabin.

It all started when I learned about Europaweg – a 2-day hiking trail along the Mattertal valley. On the way you have a chance to cross the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Europe (you did not seriously think that Switzerland does not have everything of the most?) as well as gorgeous views on Matterhorn and other 4K summits.

Alpine meadows of Appenzell

One thing I really love about Switzerland is how easy it is to organize a nature getaway here. Here is my algorithm:

  1. Open a map.
  2. Pick a village next to the mountains and a forest that has a train station or at least a bus stop. A lake nearby would be a bonus.
  3. Open the website of the village or the nearest cable car. It will almost for sure contain a description of hike trails including elevation/descent numbers and the map of all trails.
  4. Pick a trail, buy a ticket and go!

A serious advantage of the approach is that like this one can find wonderful and not very famous places which means no tourists and healthier nature. One of such Alpine gems is Wasserauen in the canton of Appenzell.